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Reasons for Concern in YRS Test Scores

Some of the strongest  evidence that a year-round school calendar and its hybrids (balanced calendar, modified calendar, early school start) are futile approaches to  improving school performance can be found in  test scores of year-round schools. 

The focus of this page is on actual test scores, recent and past, from YR school districts.  Other information on  the impact of testing follows the YRS test score charts. More  information on YRS test scores and achievement also can be found on pages elsewhere on this website (See: What's New, Year-Round School, Early School Start, Important Studies).

Ample reason to doubt the value of school calendar change as a means to improve test scores is found in the three years of Stanford 9 test scores from Alexander City, Ala.,  the very first school district listed in the annual directory of year-round schools produced by the National Association For Year-Round Education.  Alexander City schools saw steady declines since switching school calendars, and  had the lowest test scores among the six Alabama school districts that have used year-round calendar district wide for at least three years. (Chart with test scores or all six districts follows.) 

More worrisome data is found in a comparison of these six school districts to traditional calendar school districts in Alabama similar in size and demographics (numbers of children receiving free and reduced lunch).  Three testing and evaluation experts with Ph.Ds who reviewed the numbers compiled by  SummerMatters.com  said the gap in the test scores  warrants an investigation to see if year-round school may, in fact, have a detrimental impact on learning. 

Pressure placed on school districts in recent years by business leaders and their political representatives to raise test scores and  meet  new school accountability standards  find school districts desperate for ways to enhance achievement outcomes. This climate has been ripe for picking by the marketers of school calendar reform. Pitchmen for school calendar change sway school districts with reports of  test score gains from schools with a reconfigured school year -- reports that credible academic researchers largely discredit because of the flawed methodology and comparison data. (See the Research Review, Important Studies Page). Reports cited by year-round school promoters are notable for the failure of their authors to submit the research for peer review, according to Dr. Gene Glass, researcher at Arizona State University.

We hope the body of evidence on test scores posted on this page will give school districts pause when  considering school calendar reform and will  inspire  university-based researchers to examine test scores of year-round districts that are now posted by many state departments of education on the Internet.  After a decade of research and looking at year-round school testing data, our conclusion is this in a nutshell:

When it comes to school achievement . . .
 the Traditional School Year is STILL the
 Best Educational Bang for the Buck!

Below you will find:

bullet

Evidence of  the failure of YR School in 6  Alabama Districts with YRS district wide.

bullet

A Los Angeles grand jury questions YRS roll in test score gaps. 

bullet

Testing & Evaluation Update: Links to recent testing reports and data.

Evidence of YR School Failure in Six Alabama Districts

Test scores of six Alabama school districts that converted their entire district to a year-round calendar four or more years ago (as of 2001) found no test scoring advantage for third-graders compared to traditional calendar school districts with like populations of free and reduced lunch students. In fact, many of these year-round school districts saw big test score declines since dropping a traditional calendar. Examples of the declines are shown in the chart below of  third-grade reading, math and SAT totals over a three-year period.  Similar declines occurred at other grade levels.

The scores appear to  refute claims by year-round school promoters that school calendar change has academic benefits for at-risk children. Many school districts pay for the extra costs of using a year-round calendar, including fees for year-round school consultants,  from federal funds designated to help children identified as at-risk. The Alabama  test scores indicate school districts are wasting taxpayer money by using  funds designated for  at-risk kids to pay for school calendar reconfigurations.

SummerMatters.com is gathering additional information to help determine the degree to which the wide gaps  in test scores between these year-round and comparable traditional school calendar districts are significantly different by psychometric standards. Three experts on testing and evaluation  who looked at test scores of ALL six Alabama districts, grades 3 to 11, and  across all subject areas,  tell us the scores warrant an investigation to determine if the year-round calendar is a factor in the lower test scores. 

Third-grade scores in reading and mathematics and the SAT average are posted below. Scores for other grades will be posted in subsequent weeks as time permits. The data for all three  years was compiled from scores posted by the Alabama State Department of Education at http://www.alsde.edu.

Scores showing the declines for all grades (3-11) for the Alexander City Schools are posted on the "What's New" page. A compilation of scores for all grades (3-11) for the other  districts will be posted in coming weeks as time permits. 
                                                                                                          This report was posted June 21, 2002

Comparison of Stanford 9 Test Scores
For Alabama Third-Graders

Year-Round Schools and Traditional Calendar Schools
With Comparable Free and Reduced Lunch Populations

Enrollment for school year 2000-2001 and number of schools is noted under the district name

Stanford 9 Scores for Third-graders
 
A comparison of Year-Round  and Traditional School Year Districts

School District
Enrollment & No. Schools

F& R 
Lunch

Reading Mathematics SAT Total
% '99 '00 '01 '99 '00 '01 '99 '00 '01
 Alexander City
 YR School

 3,560 at 5 schools
41.74 45 43 44 51 49 49 52 49 50
 Andulusia
 1,798 at 3 schools
41/55 63 64 58 76 80 68 72 72 67
 Fayette
 2,741 at 6 schools
41.81 50 52 49 60 55 50 58 56 54
 Ford Payne
 2,679 at 4 schools
41.69 52 46 51 57 52 53 55 55 55

Observations: Lower reading and math scores as well as lower overall SAT scores were found   during the three-year period at the year-round schools compared to traditional calendar schools with comparable populations of free and reduced lunch students. 
Conclusion: The year-round calendar failed to deliver on claims that it will make a difference in student performance.

 Houston 
 YR School

 6,184 at 7 schools
42.37 44 48 43 54 56 48 52 53 48
 Albertville
 3,499  at 5 schools
43.81 64 55 58 70 65 66 68 60 64
 Pell City
 3,499 at 5 schools 
43.28 49 46 50 48 54 51 50 52 51

Observations: The year-round schools saw declines in reading, math and the overall SAT total during the three-year period while traditional calendar schools with comparable populations of free and reduced lunch students continued to score higher overall, with some increases and some declines.
Conclusion: The year-round calendar failed to deliver on claims that it will make a difference in student performance.

 

Stanford 9 Scores for Third-graders
 
A comparison of Year-Round  and Traditional School Year Districts

School District
Enrollment & No. Schools

F& R 
Lunch

Reading Mathematics SAT Total
  % '99 '00 '01 '99 '00 '01 '99 '00 '01
 Geneva City
 YR School

  1,340 at 3 schools
47.09 50 51 46 55 56 41 56 58 48
 Piedmont
 1,028 at 3 schools
47.47 56 49 42 55 59 50 59 56 50
 Tuscumbia City
  1,350  at 3 schools
46.59 59 59 60 71 66 64 65 62 64
Observations: Both the year-round school and the traditional calendar schools with similar populations of free and reduced lunch students experienced test score declines, but the year-round school had greater declines in math.
Conclusion: The year-round calendar failed to deliver on claims that it is a superior approach for improving student performance.
 Tallapoosa County
 
YR Schools

 3,447 at 5 schools
48.59 43 44 39 55 60 51 50 53 48
 Ozark City
  2,844 at 7schools
48.56 40 49 53 50 55 54 48 54 56
 Cleburne County
  2,571 at 6 schools
48.23 51 49 51 55 51 56 55 54 55
 Russellville County
  2,327 at 4 schools
48.13 49 49 51 57 56 55 54 55 55
Observations: The year-round school scores declined across the board over the three-year period while scores at the traditional schools with comparable populations of free and reduced lunch students generally improved or remained about the same. 
Conclusion:
The year-round calendar failed to deliver on claims that it would improve performance; in fact, student performance deteriorated.
 Daleville City 
 YR Schools

 1,653 at 4 schools
48.42 50 39 58 58 48 50 56 45 57
 Thomasville City
 1,657 at 3 schools
49.73 45 50 47 45 52 52 48 53 52
 Coffee County 
 YR Schools

 1,906 at 4 schools
48.90 58 50 49 65 68 57 62 59 55
 Randolph County
  2,257 at 5 schools
50.51 45 47 50 63 60 69 55 55 60
 Demopolis City
  1,350 at 4 schools 
54.98 43 41 45 45 51 49 49 47 47
Observations: Traditional Calendar schools mostly increased scores in reading and math and on the SAT total, while the two year-round schools with comparable (and even lower) populations of free and reduced lunch students generally experienced declines.
Conclusion: The year-round calendar failed to deliver on claims that it is a superior instructional method.

 

YRS Test scores by Grade
--Coffee County, Ala. Schools-- 
Achievement Record With A Year-Round Calendar 
Stanford Achievement Test Scores 1999-2001 

Under a year-round calendar, there were more drops in Coffee County test scores than improvement in language and science, while  reading scores generally remained the same. Only math scores saw improvement in the majority of grades.

                              Stanford 9 Scores by Grade for Coffee County, Ala.
                             
The test score record for a district using a year-round calendar for three years

Grade

Reading

Mathematics

Language

Science

SAT Total

Year

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

 

 3

58 50 49 65 68 57 61 53 52 65 60 51 62 59 55

 4

56 61 56 53 63 60 55 61 59 56 61 62 56 64 60

 5

58 55 58 68 71 69 60 56 59 67 66 64 63 63 62

 6

64 56 52 75 69 66 68 57 58 67 64 63 69 63 60

 7

56 51 50 56 57 57 66 59 58 69 64 66 60 57 57

 8

54 57 56 44 52 53 57 59 59 60 69 68 53 58 57

 9

45 45 48 55 57 61 60 62 62 54 55 62 53 53 57

10

40 49 40 39 49 46 52 58 50 53 63 58 46 56 48

11

43 42 40 43 49 47 57 64 59 42 54 53 47 53 49

 

3 year
score
change

Reading scores drop or same in
7 of 9 grades
Math  scores improve in 7 grades; drop in 2

Language scores  up  in 4 grades; down in 5

Science scores  up  in 4 grades; down in 5 SAT Total up  in 5 grades; drop in 4


Sept. 22, 2001: 
LOW YRS TEST  SCORES GET
GRAND JURY  ATTENTION 
      
(See the startling test score differences in chart below)

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury recommended the nation's largest year-round school district do a study to determine if the year-round calendar is the culprit in the dramatic test score differences it observed  between the district's year-round schools and traditional calendar schools.

SummerMatters  obtained a copy of the grand jury report issued  in late July 2001. The grand jury reported  that many principals in low-scoring  Los Angeles schools blamed the year-round school schedule  for low scores, saying  year-round school students  "lost 17 days of instruction per school year under this system."

Two lawsuits filed recently in California over education inequities charge the year-round calendar is "academically damaging." 

The table below lists the Stat 9 test scores of the 28 elementary, 3 middle and 3 high schools examined by the Los Angeles Grand Jury. Scores of traditional calendar schools are followed by the year-round schools.

School Calendar Used Reading Score Math Score

Elementary Schools

Clover

Traditional 79 87
Van Gogh  Traditional 72 83
Fairburn Traditional 86 93
Topeka Traditional 72 77
Sherman Oaks Traditional 68 70
Park Western Traditional 77 79
Hancock Park  Traditional 84 89
Liberty  Year-round 14 27
Middleton Year-Round 6 15
Commonwealth Year-Round 28 37
Cahuenga Year-Round 31 44
Arminta Year-Round 21 25
Wadsworth Year-Round 9 21
Union Year-Round 9 17
Nueva Vista Year-Round 13 22
Sixty-Sixth Year-Round 8 20
Tenth Year-Round 9 16
Rowan Year-Round 12 21
Fishburn Year-Round 13 24
West Vernon Year-Round 5 9
Pacoima Year-Round 8 7
South Park Year-Round 18 16
Trinity Year-Round 10 17
Barton Hill Year-Round 10 14
Eagle Rock Year-Round 56 62
Sharp Year-Round 14 23
Politi Year-Round 11 23
Logan Year-Round 22 14
Middle School
Bret Harte Middle Traditional 19 12
Horace Mann Middle Traditional 15 7
Gage Middle Year-Round 18 19
High School
El Camino Real HS Traditional 54 65
Jordan HS  *** Traditional 4 12
Huntington Park HS Year-Round 9 20

 

NAEP Reading Test

States with largest year-round school enrollments
perform the worst on national assessment test

            Dominating the list of poorest performers in reading proficiency  in the most recent scores (1998) on the National Assessment of Education Progress test for 4th graders  are those states that happen to have the nation’s  largest numbers of year-round school calendar students.

            Three of the bottom five states--those  with the worst reading performances  ---are also three of the five states with the nation’s largest number of year-round students. In fact, five of the seven states at the bottom of the performance list  published Jan. 11, 2001 in Education Week are states that have had large numbers of students going to school on a year-round calendar for a decade or more.

            California, which has housed the greatest majority of the nation’s year-round students for nearly three decades, is fourth from the bottom five 39 states on the list, which shows the percentage of 4th graders who performed at or above the proficient level on the 1998 NAEP reading exam. In the 2000-01 school year, California housed 1.34 million or 62 percent of all the nation’s public school students who go to school on a  year-round calendar. The Education Week chart  below shows California fifth from the bottom in 8th grade reading on 1998 NAEP tests.

            Hawaii, which in recent years placed nearly 98,000 students on a year-round calendar, is at the very bottom of the 39 states. Nevada, with a year-round enrollment exceeding 89,000, is No. 5 from the bottom.

            Seventh from the bottom is Arizona, which has the nation’s second largest number of year-round schools and the nation’s third largest enrollment (92,072) of public school students attending school year-round. New Mexico, which at one time had more than 10,000 children going to school year-round, holds sixth place from the bottom on NAEP scoring.

            Texas, which is about in the middle on the 4th grade reading list and has the nation’s third largest number of  year-round schools (155), has seen hundreds of schools drop the year-round calendar in recent years.  (see the Reject List.)

            Critics of the year-round calendar charge the stop-and-start year-round schedule does not improve school performance or test scores.

            The following chart  scores for  4th Grade NAEP Reading proficiency lists the top five and bottom five states, as well as the then number of year-round schools and  year-round student enrollment numbers.

1998 NAEP 4th Grade Reading Exam

State

% at or above proficient

No. YR schools in state

Top 5 States

1. Connecticut

46 percent

2           ( 440 YR students)

2. New Hampshire

36 percent

0

3. Massachusetts

37 percent

5           (3 charter; 2 public)

4. Montana

37 percent

1           (128 YR students)

5. Maine

36 percent

0

Bottom 5 States

35. Nevada

21 percent

120      (89,229 YR students)

36. California

20 percent

1,565  (No. 1 w/ 1.34 million YR)

37. Louisiana

19 percent

7         (2,300 YR students)

38. Mississippi

18 percent

10       (9,435 YR students)

39. Hawaii

17 percent

142     (No. 2 w/ 98,000 on YR)

Year-round school enrollment figures are from the 27th Reference Directory for the 2000-2001 school year produced by the National Association For Year-Round Education.

 
Sept.  2002: 
Modified Calendar Results in 78-Point Drop in SAT Scores in 2 YRS

More evidence of the detrimental impact of school calendar change on high school students can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/floydcountysos/ . Test scores have DROPPED in almost every grade since Trion City Schools moved their students to a Modified Calendar in 1999.

Average high school SAT test scores in Trion City School District in Georgia dropped 78 points in two years after switching to a year-round calendar. Check out the Floyd County Save Our Summers/Save Our Schools website.

 Testing & Evaluation Update 
Links to recent reports, research, data

Testing has a place in education, but school policymakers and political leaders have lost all perspective on the value of evaluation in their efforts to improve education performance.  For a balanced view on the role of testing in education, we  recommend reading the following reports and research.

Check out these websites:

bulletAn examination of testing and evaluation myths 

http://www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/EDDRA/

For a solid perspective about the value of tests and testing, read the many reports by education research columnist Gerald Bracey. Dr. Bracey, author of numerous books, has a website dedicated to dispelling  myths about  testing and evaluation, and related issues,  and also provides important perspective on so-called summer learning loss in a column that appeared in The Washington Post. His recent book: The War Against America's Public Schools: Privatizing Schools, Commercializing Education, is a  must read for school districts looking at school calendar change as a means to raise test scores.

bulletNo Evidence of Achievement Value in YRS 

www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/14/29/1429.htm
Education Commission of The States, June 1997.
This report found "year-round schooling's connection to increasing student achievement is debatable. . . . The research to date, as a whole, is inconclusive regarding the degree to which year-round schools affect student achievement."

bulletNew U.S. Education law seen as flawed;
Officials Note Lack of Test Standard

               http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/3410007.htm
Lexington Herald, June 6, 2002, report by Charles Wolfe, Associated Press
--Says a new federal law holding schools and states accountable for student achievement has a basic flaw.

bullet

Report suggests higher standards lead to dropouts

    http://www.townonline.com/metro/cambridge/news/37089508.htm

Cambridge News, June 4, 2002, report by Emma Stickgold
--Reports on a recent study that links higher standards to higher middle-school dropout rates.
 
bullet Study links test scores to peers' economic status

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/education/article/0,1299,DRMN_957_1158832,00.html
Rocky Mountain News, May 21, 2002 report by Holly Yettick
--A Denver study finds reading scores are higher for poor children when they attend school with wealthier classmates. The study is important to keep in mind when proponents of year-round schools tout the achievement gains of at-risk kids who are bused to magnet schools in wealthy suburban schools that have been placed on a year-round calendar.